Q:Good afternoon from Los Angeles! I came across your blog looking for my identity, I've always been fascinated by our culture. My question is, why is there no "Ra" in Baybayin? And do you write Baybayin in Tagalog like the word "saan" instead of the Hiligaynon "diin" ?
Hi pandoranihilex! Thank you for visiting this small corner of mine in cyberspace. Yes, there is “Ra” in Baybayin, the same Baybayin we use in the letter “Da.” Why is this the case? Because of the language where it was used. Pre-colonial Tagalog language (which we can only deduce as being heavily influenced by Indian, Arabic and Chinese, before the Spaniards came) use the syllabic da and ra interchangeably. Even today, in Modern Filipino, da or ra is used depending whether the word preceding it ends in consonant or vowel letter. This happens in Filipino words like “Din” or “Rin.” Take for example this conversation.
Person 1: Nagutom ako kaya ayun, kumain DIN ako. (I got hungry so I ate.)
Person 2: Ako RIN. (Me too)
The same rule also applies to the Filipino root word “Dami” (many) or “Dumi” (dirt).
We don’t say “madami” or “madumi” if we add the prefix “ma” to make it an adjective. We say “marami” or “marumi.” Although in street Filipino lingo this is not really followed. The transformation of D to R happens to ease the pronunciation in Filipino to have the rolling sound.
In the case of Baybayin being used in Hiligaynon, many Spanish chroniclers noted that Baybayin was used throughout the islands, so it may have been possible that it was also used in Hiligaynon language. But then again, Baybayin is purely syllabic which is no longer the case with Modern Filipino. You can use the Lopez diacritic “+” to use it in the language. Hope this helps!
When Bonifacio was born, there was nothing spectacular about him, save that what he would eventually do for his people he lovingly called Haring Bayang Katagalugan. Through the years, he has been used as a propaganda of Marxism, a political tool by Quezon against Aguinaldo, a hero who would be pitted against another hero, Jose Rizal. But remove all these embellishments, and we have a man who was as normal and commonfolk as we all are and could be. His idea of progress encapsulated in the Tagalog word “ginhawa” still reverberates in our national consciousness.
We now know that he was not that poor as proletariat (Mabini was poorer than him), he was not that impatient and impulsive as portrayed in many monuments (the screaming Bonifacio stereotype), that to say that he was from Tondo doesn’t mean he was a goon or a political warlord, but one who simply lived in one of the most exciting economic quarters in the Spanish province of Manila that is, as a presenter in the Bonifacio 150 conference at UP would say, a hotbed for new and radical ideas. We know from historical records that his tactics in Manila (countering the accusations of the Magdalo faction that he was not a good strategist), although foiled, was still ingenious given that he was managing troops larger than that of Cavite. We also know that although he did not finish school, he was an avid reader, who read Victor Hugo, the biographies of American presidents, who was a fan of the ideas of Rizal embedded in the two Rizalian novels of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. It is safe to say that in the context of the entire Asian region, the idea that a colonized man, an indio can rise up and govern his country without the strength of world superpowers was not only inspired by Rizal—it was revolutionary in Asia at the time. He established a nationwide movement of Filipino revolutionaries he called KKK or Kataastaasang Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan, the first group of that nature in Asia.
Bonifacio’s death is still an issue of controversy, and that his death brought about by his fellow revolutionaries in Cavite only proves that the problems of the ‘social cancer’ written by Rizal is still true, and that even in the injustice done to him, the Filipino people still applauds him louder than Aguinaldo.
Gregoria de Jesus, who searched the mountains to look for his body, and Artemio Ricarte, including Macario Sakay, who continued his legacy even after the Biak-na-Bato pact. Only a heart like Bonifacio could set ablaze hearts like these heroics.
We honor the man, for who he really is. He believed that freedom, even if it is at a high cost, can be sought and achieved, despite the depravity of his nation. It is to this that tearfully, this historian acknowledge the giant that was Andres.
“Aling pag-ibig ang hihigit kaya, sa pagkadalisay at pagkadakila… sa pag-ibig sa tinubuang lupa. Wala na nga. Wala.”
Salud, Supremo! Maligayang ika-150ng kaarawan! The first president of the Filipino nation.
*The Andres Bonifacio bust by the great Filipino sculptor Guillermo Tolentino, displayed at the National Art Gallery. Take note of Bonifacio’s name in Baybayin below the bust.
Witnessed 700 grade school students who learned a lot of good things from the life of Andres Bonifacio. Those twinkling eyes that only teachers could bring out from their students— priceless. From My Masterpiece Movement and NHCP’s Bonifacio Para sa Kabataan. #bonifacio150 #boni150 #philippines #bonifacioparasakabataan #mymasterpiecemovement #nhcp #ncca #history #instamood
To appreciate Andres Bonifacio’s love of liberty for this country, to understand his faith in the justice of his people’s cause and his concept of the value of human dignity as being far above life itself, it is necessary for us to deliberate upon them magnitude of his task. His mission was to emancipate a people who had lived for centuries under foreign rule — a people unorganized, unarmed, and with but a nascent national spirit — from a government then considered by a majority of the Filipinos as so very powerful that it could command every instrumentality to suppress any uprising of the people under subjection. And Andres Bonifacio was undoubtedly one of those extraordinary men who are born to carry out “enterprises of great pith and moment” that would demolish unjust empires and deliberate subject peoples. Imagine Bonifacio as a man born of poor and humble parents, reared in privation, always toiling hard in order to earn a living for himself and his family, and later conceiving the idea of challenging the power and might of a whole government and carrying out his plan with undaunted boldness, and you have before you the life and deeds of the Great Plebeian.
Former Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon (1878-1944) from “Andres Bonifacio, The Great Plebeian.” Historical Bulletin 7.3 (September 1963 ): 245-248.
Entire excerpt here.
Performed by the award-winning Filipino choir, the San Miguel Master Chorale, with music performed by the San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra, Paraiso was a song composed by renowned composer Ryan Cayabyab for the Filipino pop group Smokey Mountain. Cayabyab served as musical director and composer for the said group. Known to dress up in ragged clothes to depict the realities of people living in Manila’s garbage dump called with the same name, Smokey Mountain, who originally performed the song, had performed for the United Nations World Summit for Children in New York in 1990 and won the Tokyo Music Festival in 1992. The group later disbanded in 1994, with the singers pursuing their individual careers as actors and singers.
Posting this now, in solidarity with the survivors (not victims) of Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Our hearts and prayers go with you in this time of loss and rebuilding.
Paraiso is the Filipino word for Paradise.
Return to a land called Paraiso,
a place where a dying river ends.
No birds there fly over Paraiso,
no space allows them to endure.
The smoke that screens the air,
the grass that’s never there.
And if I could see a single bird, what a joy.
I try to write some words and create
a simple song to be heard
by the rest of the world.
I live in this land called Paraiso,
in a house made of cardboard floors and walls.
I learned to be free in Paraiso,
free to claim anything I see.
Matching rags for my clothes,
plastic bags for the cold.
And if empty cans were all I have, what a joy.
I never fight to take someone
else’s coins and live with fear
like the rest of the boys.
Paraiso, help me make a stand.
Paraiso, take me by the hand
Paraiso, make the world understand
that if I could see a single bird, what a joy.
This tired and hungry land could expect
some truth and hope and respect
from the rest of the world.
Source: SoundCloud / indiobravo
Featuring this very old photo of Baguio in the 1920s. With the help of Apple Maps (satellite imaging), I surmise that this photo may have been taken somewhere in the middle of Session Road, near the famous Selecta Ice Cream store. Yes, maps like these can help any intrepid historian. :)
Baguio was built as a Colonial Hill Station of the Americans during the American period in the Philippines, right at the former Igorot settlement on the same site. The location was carefully surveyed and chosen due to its temperate climate that is almost similar to the cold weather of the U.S. It was therefore designed to ‘cure’ the long-staying American soldiers in the tropics from the mythical pathological sickness they used to call “Melancholia” where Americans go nuts because of the heat (this most probably may have been just psychological, or a neat way to call that feeling of homesickness). Notice that the central core of economic and social activity was originally centered on Burnham park, named after the guy who designed the blueprint of the city. With the arrival of SM Baguio, this core later moved to Session Road and was dispersed in the downtown area.
I just hope that this university town would be proactive in preserving the pine trees, which I see is diminishing every time I visit.
Still Baguio has its own charm, and I’ll enjoy it while I’m here.
Arrived here just as #YolandaPH, was making a landfall in the Phils. on Friday. Hope everybody’s ok.
Q:Hello there! I stumbled onto your blog somehow and I felt the littlest twinge of serendipity given I'm a pseudo-historian now cleaning up much from one of the "old families" because they want to set up a family archive one day. Would you happen to know a lot of the history of Philippine Shipping?
I don’t know much about history of modern Philippine Shipping but I do know that the Galleon Trade in the Spanish period that connected the Philippines to Acapulco, Mexico and Seville, Spain set the modern routes. The said Galleon Trade was, shall I say, the very purpose of the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. It is to bring in the spices and other Oriental products from Asia to Spain, to compete with other colonizing powers of the time like Portugal, and later the British, the Dutch and the French. It lasted for about 250 years but was put to a stop when Mexico wrested their independence from Spain. After that, the shipping route has been well-established by then.
Aside from that, we had a long history of maritime trade in the Pre-colonial period: China, Champa, India, and other polities in the Philippines like Sulu, Maguindanao, Butuan, Tondo, and a certain ‘Ma-Yi’ played a part in that part of our history. Maybe that area in Philippine history can be your niche. :)
Carlos V. Francisco, detail from Filipino Struggles Through History, 1964, Manila City Hall.
Why the Reformation is Still Relevant
It has often been told that superstitious people operate on superstition primarily because of the fear of the unknown. Why do we fear the dark? Not because there is darkness, but because we don’t know what the darkness hides, what lurks in it. We try to appease that unknown for implicitly we don’t want it to hurt us. The Pinoy phrase “Tabi tabi po" on mounds at your garden operates on the same principle. We appease the unseen, for we never know what it will do to us.
The people of the Medieval Age Europe also operated on fear. The Medieval Period was a world of famine, of crusade-led wars against the Muslims to reclaim Jerusalem, of bubonic plague. But the fear that towers most among the people was that fear that you can never enter heaven. It is this fear that many of the clergy fed upon, as Tetzel (a friar) would collect indulgences, money to release your dead loved ones from the torment of Purgatory, into heaven. If they don’t pay, Tetzel threatened, their loved ones could suffer the endless fires of hell. The collected money, these sweat and tears of the people would fund the great basilicas in Rome, as people cower in fear and in their ignorance. Masses would be held in Latin, a language that common people didn’t understand. And to be educated is to live a dangerous life.
The motto of the Reformation sounded so true. “Post tenebras lux.” After darkness, light. Thanks to that movement, Bibles have been translated into the common language, people were encouraged to read, to question authority, to think for themselves, and also to realize this truth in Scripture: No amount of good works can achieve salvation. It is only on the dependence on Christ’s free gift of salvation can we have it. Sounds cliché from a typical born-again preacher. But this gave a freeing spirit to those who lived in fear for so long.
It is FREE. Salvation. You only had to believe.
This gave confidence to millions of people as they lived and suffered for this conviction.
So here are 6 lessons I learned from studying the Reformation.
1. It is ok to question authority.
Is it the chicken or the egg? The Roman Catholic Church insists that it has equal footing in authority as the Scriptures since it was the one who approved it through councils. Really? But those councils just affirmed what has been universally accepted to be truth, balanced with the canon of the Old Testament which was already complete by then. So what happens when the church collides with Scriptural principles? Do we not choose? Who’s the original, the simple church in the New Testament bereft of rituals, or the church full of rituals and countless saints?
2. Truth is simplicity. Complications are often fabrications.
Occam’s razor. Truth is often found when you remove the embellishments. Imagine, the thousands of saints and ‘mother of god’ removed with only One to kneel down to and worship. The removal of icons and the acknowledgement of the invisibility of Divine presence, made God’s infinity seen. “For God does not dwell in temples made by human hands” says Acts 7:48. It also removed that weird heavenly bureaucracy, those hundreds of saints to-go-tos before you could get to God himself, and other weird places to go to in the afterlife before you could get into heaven (talk about Hell, Limbo, Purgatory, and Heaven). The Reformation gave people confidence to pray to God himself directly, with Jesus as the only mediator (1 Tim 2:5) and to go to heaven directly when they die, they only have to “believe” in Jesus. (John 1:12)
3. Check where it all came from. Truth is often found in dusty primary sources.
One wonders why the Temple in Jerusalem as described in the Old Testament didn’t have any image or icon of worship. Or why a Catholic should pray to St. Claire when in the Old Testament, Moses would have been a very good candidate for he overshadowed all the prophets combined in the OT. Or how about when Cornelius in Acts 10:25-26, knelt to Peter and Peter said, “Stand up, I am only a man.” Yep. That should lead to questions and more questions. The Bible, in a historian’s perspective, is THE primary source of Christianity. Something is not in line when those who profess the faith contradict what is written on it.
4. Authenticity is still better than theatrics.
When the icon was removed as the object of worship after the Reformation, and the walls of the cathedral was removed as the only sacred space, the whole world where the believer moves became the place of worship. The clergy who serves at church became no different than the farmer who faithfully toils the field or the noble who rules his people with compassion. Because God is invisible and everywhere, any person can worship without showing off rituals. Authenticity was put back to the center. It also removed the bureaucracy within the church. All are sinful in front of the Creator.
5. Persuasion is still way better than coercion.
The Catholic church had a history of hysteria. Many of its popes were control freaks. If a heresy arises, crush’em. If a person contradicts what the infallible Pope says, burn’em at the stake. But history attests to the fact that the church survived in spite of heresies. When the Reformation spread around Europe and nations declared on which sides they were on, the Catholic church did a major tactical change. They reaffirmed their beliefs but they also went mellow in dealing with those who disagree with them. Truth is truth and it may need some defending but it will, most likely, defend itself. That’s what made the Reformation so potent. Spurgeon said, “The gospel is like a caged lion. It does not need to be defended, it just needs to be let out of its cage.” Persuasion friends. Not coercion.
6. No one is infallible. And yes that includes the pope.
Many popes that lived have uttered apologies for the silence of the Catholic church during the Holocaust, and for the pedophilia scandals that plagued the celibate clergy, etc. This should put to silence that belief in the catholic church that the Pope cannot commit error. “No one is righteous, not even one,” says Rom. 3:10.That is the great equalizer. Tears down lofty positions and removes the temptation to fake it like the holier-than-thou pharisees of old.
With that, this historian celebrates with the rest of the Evangelicals around the world, in the time that light broke through and the Bible was opened to us all.
Happy Reformation Day!
*Enjoy Reformation History by viewing the Lego version here! Credits to @wunztwice from flickr.
IndioHistorian Reformation Day posts HERE.